GM to make all-electric Chevy Spark for 2013


General Motors confirmed this week that it plans to produce an all-electric version of the Chevy Spark, the carmaker’s first all-electric vehicle, reports Reuters. The electric Spark will debut in 2013.

“Chevrolet will produce an all-electric version of the Spark minicar for selected U.S. and global markets, including California,” said Jim Federico, Chevy’s chief engineer of electric vehicles, at the company’s headquarters on Wednesday.

While the US market hasn’t yet embraced electric cars with the fervor of other countries, their numbers continue to grow. GM is currently in a race to steal Toyota’s crown as the world’s “greenest automaker.” Toyota’s Prius was the first hybrid to gain relative popularity among US buyers. The Chevy Spark will also take on other newcomers, like the Nissan Leaf.

Motivating GM’s move to all-electric are looming changes to federal US guidelines, which will require carmakers to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles. These changes, put forth by President Obama, will take effect in 2025.

GM began selling the Chevy Volt, a plug-in hybrid, in December 2010. The Volt can travel up to 50 miles using the only the battery, and get up the equivalent of 93 MPG when in all-electric mode. In gasoline-only mode, its mileage rating drops to 37 MPG, giving the Volt an overall fuel-efficiency rating of 60 MPG, which is noticeably less than the 73 MPG of the Nissan Leaf. It is not yet clear what MPG rating the forthcoming all-electric Volt will receive.

The biggest challenge to automakers now is convincing Americans to buy all-electric cars. According to a recent survey, a large majority of Americans won’t pay extra for an electric vehicle. And while 54 percent said they would consider purchasing an all-electric car, 78 percent said they wouldn’t pay more than $30,000 for one. The newest Nissan Leaf starts at $32,780; the 2012 Chevy Volt starts at a reduced $39,145. Buyers of both vehicles are eligible to receive a $7,500 tax credit, cutting the price of these vehicles immensely.

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